This year will go down as a banner year for solar energy. We expect new solar installations to reach a record-breaking 7.4 gigawatts (GW) by year's end. And yet, the 2015 record is already looking like a distant memory compared to what is to come.
America's solar boom is far from busting. In fact, solar will more than triple in size from just more than 24 GW of total capacity to nearly 100 GW by 2020. By that point, there will be enough solar installed to power 20 million American homes.
A new #solar system was activated every 1.6 minutes in Q3! #GoSolar #SolarIsNow https://t.co/jASaUrFlvg @SunBaca https://t.co/f8Rb7eLqjo— Solar Industry (@Solar Industry)1449681093.0
The more rapid growth is projected because solar companies have received and will continue to receive reliable and supportive federal policies. These allow them to mature, employ hundreds of thousands of American workers and pump billions of dollars in new investments into the American economy along the way.
New Solar Era
Sustained growth for one of America's newest and most cutting-edge industries was solidified last week when Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill. This seemingly routine legislation is historic because it brings the solar industry to the forefront of the conversation about American energy.
Instead of the solar investment tax credit (ITC) dropping down to 10 percent for commercial users and zero for residential users at the end of 2016, Congress took action that will help solar drive America toward its clean energy future.
The bill included modifications to the tax code that extended both the residential and commercial sections of the ITC. Specifically, there is a long-term extension for both residential and commercial solar users with a gradual phase down over the next five years, as well as a permanent 10 percent tax credit for commercial users.
ITC Extension and Phase Down Schedule
- 2017: 30 percent
- 2018: 30 percent
- 2019: 30 percent
- 2020: 26 percent
- 2021: 22 percent
- 2022 and beyond: permanent 10 percent for commercial credit
For the first time, the legislation also allows for users to claim the credit when construction of their projects begins as long as the projects are placed in service by Dec. 31, 2023.
Thank you to everyone who answered our calls for action and helped #SaveTheITC. The future looks bright! https://t.co/xrcxB8kjGN— Solar Industry (@Solar Industry)1450735560.0
The Industry Took Action With ITC
This powerful victory would not have been possible without the industry calling on Congress to stand with solar and the American people.
#SolarIsNow https://t.co/bPqMkw4j3i— Solar Industry (@Solar Industry)1450459718.0
At SEIA's urging, Americans sent nearly 35,000 letters and made countless phone calls to their representatives in Congress, and industry leaders published nearly 100 columns and letters in community newspapers throughout the country.
The solar industry now has a seat at the table with the nation's major electricity producers and it will continue to power more and more of America for years to come.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
A tornado tore through a city north of Birmingham, Alabama, Monday night, killing one person and injuring at least 30.
- Tornadoes and Climate Change: What Does the Science Say ... ›
- Tornadoes Hit Unusually Wide Swaths of U.S., Alarming Climate ... ›
- 23 Dead as Tornado Pummels Lee County, AL in Further Sign ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Konisky
On his first day in office President Joe Biden started signing executive orders to reverse Trump administration policies. One sweeping directive calls for stronger action to protect public health and the environment and hold polluters accountable, including those who "disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities."
Michael S. Regan, President Biden's nominee to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, grew up near a coal-burning power plant in North Carolina and has pledged to "enact an environmental justice framework that empowers people in all communities." NCDEQ
- Report Urges Biden to Reverse Trump's Environmental Rollbacks ›
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ›
- Biden's EPA Pick Michael Regan Urged to Address Environmental ... ›
- Biden Faces Pressure to Tackle 'Unfunded' Toxic Waste Sites ... ›
By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.